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Tried Cuisine's Happy Hour menu [DTW]...

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Tried Cuisine's Happy Hour menu [DTW]...

boagman | Dec 10, 2011 10:05 PM

...and it's quality, but the servings are, indeed, quite small. I went absolutely starving (hadn't eaten all day), and tried the following:

1. French Kiss Martini ($6). Absolut citrus, chambourd, and pineapple juice. Very sweet, and my kind of drink. Painfully small glass, making the discounted price seem a bit disingenuous. Still, I did like it quite well, and it was quite potent. My server/bartender Annie did a good job all night.

2. Tuna tartar on risotto cakes ($8). I was told when I ordered that the salmon this is supposed to come with was going to be tuna (sashimi grade) that night. Disappointed at that news, but I still went for it. Quality was good, and the risotto cakes were very good, but the portion was very small for the $8 (four bites?) and tuna isn't exactly a pricey fish. Wouldn't get it at that price range again...I'd much rather get a better sushi roll at Noble Fish.

3. Mini beef short rib sandwich ($3). Much improved from the previous dish mentioned. Their pastry chef does their own *exceptional* bread, topped with braised beef (nicely prepared) and, in a bit of a surprise, some creamed leeks, and no top piece of bread. Really, really good. Even the strand of thyme that made it out in with the beef that the kitchen missed taking out (no harm done) didn't hurt it. This was probably my favorite HH menu item, and I could get a few of these and be pretty happy. As it is, I ordered a second one later on. This was bigger than the entire tuna tartar dish, which I find odd.

4. Mini duck slider ($1.50). Pretty good, but nothing to really write home about. The duck is ground into a patty, and it's served with a very nice stone-ground mustard. The mustard was actually more interesting than the slider itself. I guess it needed a bit more flavor. It's not as though it went uneaten, though.

5. Soup du jour [lobster bisque] ($3). Very good value, and very good bisque. Not too rich for me, which some lobster bisques can be. Creamy, with nice flavor. In retrospect, I wish I'd asked for some bread with it, but that'll have to be for next time. As it is, this is one of the best values for the money on the HH menu that I tried, along with the #3 above.

6. Braised pork belly over red cabbage ($7). It's hard to mess up with fatty pork, and they don't, or at least they didn't with mine. Very simple presentation, with lots of fatty goodness cut by the acidity of the cabbage. I probably shouldn't have eaten all of the fat, but I was just that hungry. The pork definitely tasted good.

After it all, I asked for and received some of their plain bread that the #3 had come on, and was it ever a treat! This stuff made me very happy, and I could eat that stuff by the loaf. Still, even after the two slices of bread, I wasn't really full, so you can sort of understand that the portions are on the tiny side. I don't care how hungry I am at Roast: 3 items off their HH menu (the burger, the BOTD tacos, and maybe something else...) and you can stick a fork in me because I'm just plain *done*. At Cuisine, I had five different dishes (one twice) and some extraneous bread and still could have eaten more, quite comfortably. My total bill, after tax and tip, was $40, which I consider to be a pretty darned expensive Happy Hour bill for not filling me up.

Still, the *quality* of the food was spot-on. There's something to be said for that, and perhaps that's worth paying a bit more for. As well, it's not as though I exhausted the HH menu: I didn't try the lobster crab croquette ($7), nor the veal sweetbreads ($7), nor the Caesar salad ($5), nor the mac 'n' cheese ($3), nor the four cheese plate ($7), nor the veggy risotto ($7). It's more than fair to say that the HH menu here changes quite rapidly, often at the whim/will of the chef, and perhaps with what's available. One of the main reasons I'd come was that I wanted to try their mini crab cakes ($1) which were on the HH menu that they'd emailed me. Not available, and apparently they were only on the HH menu for about one week (they're not on the current printed menu that I received). Then there's the salmon-to-tuna substitution, so it seems pretty "fluxy" to me. I'm a sucker for a good crab cake, though, and if they'd been good, I could have seen myself ordering a half dozen to a dozen of those had they had them. Not to be.

Bottom line: I'd go back, and this is coming from a guy whose previous experience with Cuisine was flat-out *lousy*. The first time I was there several years back was abysmal, and this experience redeemed them somewhat. I was mostly pleased, but it was a pretty expensive toe-in-the-water experience. I liked my experience, I thought the food was good (if quite a bit on the small side), but it does bode well for the full menu, and for the next HH experience.

I'll just know to not go on a completely empty stomach next time. My wallet was a little lighter than I would have liked it to have been considering that my stomach wasn't sated.

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